HAIR by Gerome Ragni & James Rado

Date and Venue 10 July 2009 @ 8pm | River Rock Theatre, Richmond

Reviewer Ed Farolan

When I first saw this show 40 years ago in Toronto, I was a young man doing graduate studies and enmeshed in the protest movement against the war in Vietnam, free love, pot and LSD, the Beatles, the revolution, and so forth and so on. Things haven't changed much since then. Now we continue having wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more pot, protests...nothing has really changed. That old adage "history repeats itself" is so true.

In the news, we see Canadian soldiers come back in caskets from Afghanistan, and in this play, towards the end, we have one of the characters draped in an American flag, killed in Vietnam. So it's timely that this classic American "Tribal Love Rock Musical" is resuscitated and as the musical ends, the young people in the audience go up on stage to dance and sing "Let the Sun Shine In " and "Aquarius".

To a lot of seniors in the audience like myself, it brings back memories of a celebration of life and freedom, the revolutionary spirit of youth, the passionate cry for hope and change that we all strived for in our youth.

Directed by Erin Hancock, the musical is performed by the Undergraduate Theatre Society of Seattle. It's not a professional group; it's probably a bunch of university students who decided to come up with this play. So I didn't expect much. Some of the songs were off-tune, and the mikes weren't working properly. At least four actors didn't have long hair, and only the main characters were wearing hippy outfits. But at curtain call, the audience stood up in ovation and the young ones (and some old hippies) ran up and joined the "tribe" dancing and singing.

It was an entertaining evening, another nostalgic trip for us seniors recalling those turbulent years which are still reflected in the happenings of today.This musical is currently being revived in New York, and I'm almost certain, in other cities in Europe, the US and Canada.

© 2009 Ed Farolan